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Uniting the Kingdoms? 1066-1603

 
   

England

Scots in England

National identity was notoriously flexible on the border. In 1597 Robert Graham defied the King of Scotland in a dispute over his nationality by simply asserting that he was English, despite the contrary evidence of his birth, baptism, marriage and landholding. In 1587 Lord Hunsdon, Captain of Berwick, claimed that many of the 3,000 Scots within Northumberland passed information across the border so quickly that no plans could be kept secret for long.

Away from the border, Scots suffered much because they were seen as the perpetual enemies of the English. When major wars broke out between England, Scotland and France, as in 1513 and 1543, all unmarried Scotsmen were declared to be enemies. Together with married Scottish couples, beggars and vagabonds, they were to be expelled to Scotland. Scotsmen with English wives and English-born children, as well as Scottish servants, were allowed to remain but were subject to penalties and restrictions.

 

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Proposals for defeating the Scots

 

Taxing foreigners

In order to enforce such measures, in 1543 a commission set out to identify Scots in all English counties. Some of its returns are among Henry VIII's State Papers at The National Archives. That such measures could be taken suggests that, by this date, a large number of Scots had settled in England. This is confirmed by taxation records: taxes called alien subsidiesGlossary term - opens in a pop-up window had been introduced in 1440 as a direct result of xenophobia after military defeats in France. The subsidies for Cumberland and Westmorland show numerous Scottish people working as servants within England or living as householders in their own right, despite the severe measures that were introduced during wartime.

Scots as well as foreigners in general were subject to considerable hostility, and at times of tension could be accused of causing disorder within England. In 1429, for example, at the height of Joan of Arc's campaigns against the English in France, the English Parliament discussed a crimewave for which they blamed Scottish and other foreign students from Cambridge University.

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Detail from Robert I of Scotland (the Bruce) and his wife Isobel, daughter of John, Earl of Mar. By kind permission of Sir Francis Ogilvy.
 
Detail from Robert I of Scotland (the Bruce) and his wife Isobel, daughter of John, Earl of Mar. By kind permission of Sir Francis Ogilvy.